A dynamic I've seen repeatedly over the years in many workplaces is when something goes wrong or a difficult situation comes up and people stop communicating. This can take the form of not talking to someone because a problem has arisen or ignoring people when things get difficult. The results of this type of behavior are less than stellar when dealing with co-workers or clients.
When you decide not to communicate it leads to making the situation worse because you don't deal with the issue at hand and both sides are left to make assumptions and create a one-sided view of what's going on. It's the opposite of effective communication because there is no exchange of information or ideas.
So what causes this behavior and what can you do about it? Many leaders and employees mean well but behave this way because they have not learned how to deal with difficult communication situations. They get uncomfortable or shut down when something is too hard to deal with. Others get angry or hurt and, since they don't yet have the skills to open the lines of communication, the problem simply gets worse. Here are some tips to help you communicate even in the most challenging situations.
1. Realize that the situation is not personal.
2. Let go of any need to win, be right or save face.
3. Listen to what the other person has to say without rebutting or arguing.
4. Work with the other person to find a mutually acceptable solution.
5. Keep calm and look for ways to be accommodating and helpful.
6. Be as open and transparent as possible.
7. Work on your own emotional response to difficult situations.
8. Take an effective communication class.
9. Train all your employees so that communicate well.
10. Stop pretending that silence fixes things.
Try these ideas and you'll get much better results than if you shut the communication down. Workplaces are plagued by the damage that comes from well-meaning people shutting down the lines of communication. What starts out as an attempt to avoid confrontation ends up creating one. What will you do to actually communicate?